Scrum Handbook: Servant Leadership And Scrum Mastering

Scrum Mastering is a servant-leadership role. That’s a given. The phrase servant leader, first coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in his groundbreaking essay, The Servant as Leader, defined the role as focusing “primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the ‘top of the pyramid,’ servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.”[1]

That sure sounds like Scrum Mastering. But, what does that look like, exactly? How does the Scrum Master function as a servant-leader to enable and empower people to do their jobs? It comes down to 3 leadership roles, each of them responsible for ensuring Scrum is understood and correctly applied.

The 3 Servant Leadership Roles of a ScrumMaster

1. Team Facilitator (TF):Servant Leadership And Scrum Mastering - Team Facilitator

The Team Member who facilitates the Team Members’ self-organization (on a daily basis) to help them

Every Team must have a Team Facilitator, who is often a technical contributor, as well.

2. Agile Coach (AC):Servant Leadership And Scrum Mastering - Agile Coach

A person who works with the Scrum Team to help them improve their skills. The skills might be technical or non-technical, and improvements are typically achieved through training and/or mentoring.

The Agile Coach often works with the Team Facilitator[3] to

  • Help the Team Members understand, implement, and improve their use of Scrum and Agility; and
  • Help the Team identify its Kaizen every Sprint.[4]

Every Team must have access to an Agile Coach as needed; this usually requires one Agile Coach for every 2-10 Teams, with 5 being the ‘sweet spot.’

3. Change Agent (CA):Servant-Leadership Change-Agent

A person who helps the Organization adopt, implement, and sustain Scrum and understand how best to support and work with Scrum Teams, including organizational design. There needs to be at least one Change Agent per Organization. The Change Agent is usually also an Agile Coach[5] (with expertise in organizational behavior), and is considered the ‘senior Scrum Master’ in the Organization.

Looking for more real-world tips on Scrum Mastering?

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As Always. Stay Agile.

Notes and Sources

1 Greenleaf, Robert K. The Servant as Leader. Westfield, IN: Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, 2008.

2-5 “Team Kaizen,” “Team Facilitator,” “Sprint,” “Agile Coach.” Accessed March 15, 2018.